Fractal Softworks Forum

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Pages: 1 2 [3] 4 5 6

Author Topic: A Professional Critique Of Story Points  (Read 5944 times)

Megas

  • Admiral
  • *****
  • Posts: 9707
    • View Profile
Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #30 on: May 04, 2021, 04:47:11 AM »

Bribing takes SP now.  I would sooner go to war or even wipe them off the map with sat bombs than to pay credits, let alone SP, to the extortionists.  All SP must go to colonies and feed the 2^n rate!
Logged

Syfer3k

  • Ensign
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #31 on: May 04, 2021, 05:08:13 AM »

I just finished my first playthrough of the vanilla game a while ago and feel like story points are a bit strange for someone that saves/loads a bunch.

However, when you start a new game and hover over "Iron Mode" it specifically says that "This is the setting the game is intended to be played on". If you keep this in mind, suddenly story points make a whole lot more sense, no? Sometimes this game will put you in situations that will wreck your entire fleet or favorite modded ship through no fault of your own, and rather than walking away feeling terrible you get to spend semi-limited points. In Iron Mode the points aren't random cheat codes, I see them more as a valuable currency that emulate quick save/load.
Logged

Amoebka

  • Admiral
  • *****
  • Posts: 502
    • View Profile
Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #32 on: May 04, 2021, 07:07:50 AM »

I mean, that's exactly the problem. Story points are limited-use cheats / savescum tokens that don't even remotely feel like an integral part of the game. It's a crappy band-aid solution for balance problems. Instead of giving the player the option to cheat his way out of an unwinnable retreat, make it retreat battles actually worth playing out. Currently, the game is seemingly designed around the player doing everything perfectly, lossless, and either never taking risks or reloading failures. The failure recovery mechanics are virtually non-existent.

In the old blog post Alex gushed how story points "allow him to do cool stuff as a developer". Sadly, it means "allow him to slap magical cheat points as a no-brain solution to anything instead of designing game systems that actually feel like they belong in the game".
Logged

Megas

  • Admiral
  • *****
  • Posts: 9707
    • View Profile
Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #33 on: May 04, 2021, 07:19:08 AM »

Currently, the game is seemingly designed around the player doing everything perfectly, lossless, and either never taking risks or reloading failures. The failure recovery mechanics are virtually non-existent.
This is my biggest gripe about bounties.  Their payouts assume flawless victory every time.  Sure, a string of flawless victories against bounties will make the player rich, but if he takes a loss, he may lose two or three bounties worth just to replace the ship.

If the game is to encourage challenging combat, it should provide enough to cover losses.  Otherwise, player will avoid combat unless he can totally crush the enemy like an angry god stomping on bugs.

Bar jobs that send surprise hunter fleets are worse if player gets caught, since they pay nothing at all, and the job assumed no combat (or only ground combat with raids).
Logged

Shad

  • Commander
  • ***
  • Posts: 206
    • View Profile
Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #34 on: May 04, 2021, 07:29:50 AM »

Following up from my last night response. Almost any situation with SP could be replaced with actual gameplay:

1. Skip combat: negotiations, bribes, relations with factions mechanics, dropping cargo, combat retreat battles...

2. Salvage. A salvage system that depends on the level of salvage officers and ships you have, so dedicated salvagers get a chance. Or just straight tak a page out of Battletech's book. Have a "possible loot" pool and let the player make some of guaranteed picks based on how much salvage skills he has. For example: "You have 130 salvage points. Guaranteed XIV Onlaught recovery (1-3 dmods) will cost 40. -10 because ship was disabled and not destroyed. +20 for being a non-buildable hull. +20 for decreasing dmods by 1.".

3. Planets. The 2^n system is a giveaway that it should not be there in the first place. There are many mods that were already mentionned.

4. Baked-in hullmods. This is probably the worst aspect, which breaks the game lore quite badly. Things like the XIV battlegroup hulls were super rare and therefore valuable, representing the lost level of technology the sector can no longer replicate. Now - you can just make your own better Onslaught XIV seemingly out of thin air. Or a super Paragon. Or both. And again, it's not like there aren't gameplay mechanics set out for this. We have industries, nanoforges, from which an in-game mechanic for making ships with extra hull mods could be possible on a very limited scale.

etc.
Logged

Draba

  • Captain
  • ****
  • Posts: 262
    • View Profile
Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #35 on: May 04, 2021, 09:23:08 AM »

4. Baked-in hullmods. This is probably the worst aspect, which breaks the game lore quite badly. Things like the XIV battlegroup hulls were super rare and therefore valuable, representing the lost level of technology the sector can no longer replicate. Now - you can just make your own better Onslaught XIV seemingly out of thin air. Or a super Paragon. Or both. And again, it's not like there aren't gameplay mechanics set out for this. We have industries, nanoforges, from which an in-game mechanic for making ships with extra hull mods could be possible on a very limited scale.
This one is my main gripe about the system.
I feel colony output is a bit underutilized, in the end most industries give you money and that's it (just need a waystation for convenient resupplies).

Heavy industry is the cool one, it gives you production capability.
Taking regular losses in combat makes you utilize that production even after you have a full fleet.
Now the story points:
- make production less important (not that bad, recovering can be a nice convenience)
- make SP the main bottleneck when you take losses. I really dislike this one, a fully disposable fleet without s-mods is much weaker than something fully upgraded

Story points do give a sense of progression once credits are meaningless, so that's nice. XP bonuses also give an incentive for running lean and going for 3+ SP/battle.
Still, IMO finding better (and scaling) credit sinks would improve the game a lot.
Logged

Ramiel

  • Lieutenant
  • **
  • Posts: 90
    • View Profile
Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #36 on: May 04, 2021, 09:25:31 AM »

I'd almost prefer the entirety of hyperspace was replaced with a narrative interface - Plot course to Zagan system! Captain, we're picking up hostiles! Spend fuel to outrun them? Close in and engage? Comm up and bribe them to leave us alone?)

This! I would have much preferred this to the constant hyperspace storms!
Make it so that skills have additional effects on your options! Going silent if you have phase skills/ships, launch pre-emptive strike if you have carriers to enter combat against damaged ships, bribe some enemies into becoming your allies for a battle, bribe your way out of combat entirely, etc. It would give so many more options!
Logged

Sutopia

  • Admiral
  • *****
  • Posts: 903
    • View Profile
Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #37 on: May 04, 2021, 09:43:04 AM »

Two cents: mod colony buildings are glorified cheating at best. I can run colonies without any SP upgrade just fine and still net over 500k a month while being pather free and inspection free. SP is there for incompetitive players to fix their mess-ups and mods are used as cheap excuses.

That said I’m perfectly fine if SP upgrading colony is removed altogether, but it’s completely improper to cheat by mod and claim it’s the legit way.

FooF

  • Admiral
  • *****
  • Posts: 810
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #38 on: May 04, 2021, 12:00:31 PM »

Along the lines of what Tartiflette said, if you made S-Mods a "per OP" type option, you'd correct a lot of the issues I have with S-Mods: namely it's a one-size-fits-all solution whether its a Frigate putting on Expanded Mags (3 OP) or Capital Heavy Armor (40 OP).

I'm always loath to put S-mods on Frigates because I know those will eventually be rendered meaningless in the grand scheme of big battles. If stuff less than 10 OP were half a SP (or flat out 1 SP= 2 Frigate S-mods), I might be more tempted to S-mod Frigates. As you get into bigger ships, you start getting into fractions of points but I'd prefer granularity over what we have.
Logged

Megas

  • Admiral
  • *****
  • Posts: 9707
    • View Profile
Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #39 on: May 04, 2021, 12:30:47 PM »

Along the lines of what Tartiflette said, if you made S-Mods a "per OP" type option, you'd correct a lot of the issues I have with S-Mods: namely it's a one-size-fits-all solution whether its a Frigate putting on Expanded Mags (3 OP) or Capital Heavy Armor (40 OP).
We have this already, namely how much bonus XP you get.  In effect, most s-mods are worth less than a full SP, given enough grinding in the long run.
Logged

Pappus

  • Lieutenant
  • **
  • Posts: 87
    • View Profile
Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #40 on: May 04, 2021, 03:20:26 PM »

I like that they safe me a lot of reloads at times.

Picking up a mission type I don't know and some hypersensitive patrol is dead set on hanging around for a year. I rather just drive, give a point and wrap it up.

Most of my story points went into removing the influence penalty during raids (without transponder).

I dislike them with generic shipbuilding a lot. Having basically 2 free mods on everything takes out most of the worries you had on ships and god knows what the AI s-mods onto theirs.

There I mostly used them to slap on augmented drive. To which I think the speed of fleets really needs another look at. If it weren't for those though we would take some Tugs, so either way it is boring.

If your normal speed is basically 20 unless you scavenge some random ship, then why does ship-speed exist in the first place?

Half of the implementation is good, the other half I dislike. I like them where the game is weak to begin with (disengage, transponder shenanigans, raids, ship recovery). I dislike them where it makes no sense (emergency repair, historian, bribing, s-mods) from a game that already doesn't have much challenges.
Logged

ModdedLaharl

  • Ensign
  • *
  • Posts: 35
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #41 on: May 04, 2021, 07:47:49 PM »

To Syfer3K and also kind of to Megas and Pappus: Uh, well, I had a response, but Amoebka actually does it more justice, so. Yeah, that. The game needs better failure handling; should be more like a sandbox and less like an RPG in that regard. But even then, I've known RPGs that had decent fail-states.

To Shad: Talk sweet to me baby. I actually really like the concept of salvage point pools. That would also allow for incentivizing salvage-centric ships. It would be... A little arbitrary, not quite rubbing me the right way, but I can't deny the mechanical advantages.

To Ramiel/Wyvern: While I agree that Hyperspace needs work I'd be against its removal. I'm actually quite fond of the sense of distance and grandeur I get from it, and I also like sometimes being a skeevy pirate in a place where I don't have to transponder anything, and just victimize trade fleets and unlucky pirates.
Logged

Ad Astra

  • Commander
  • ***
  • Posts: 209
  • Are Reapers strawberry flavored?
    • View Profile
Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #42 on: May 04, 2021, 07:59:57 PM »

A clever mechanic here would be to give the player even a small amount of control over that as opposed to RNG being the end all, perhaps something to do with how much damage per second was done to the hull to signify particularly catastrophic impacts that would split a ship apart (e.g. the impact of a Reaper in a single second versus that same damage spread out over time by a Mark IX), and one person on the forum by the name Ad Astra suggested finishing a ship via EMP damage (I'd argue for 'majority of damage was EMP'); any good XCOM player can tell you that RNG is acceptable if you're able to manipulate the inputs and outcomes in a meaningful manner, which is essentially what I'm on about here. But I digress. Again.

Damnit! I came here to berate this guy but now he agreed with me so I just have to shut up...
Just kidding

Well buddy, that was a long text! A long text I agree with quite a bit.

Some have said that story points are not in any way different from skill points, well I have to disagree, while a skill point symbolizes the expertise gained by an individual through their experiences within the game world, just like what a real person goes through in real life, story points would at best be moments of inspiration, which are not really good to implement in a game system, you want those from the player themselves (like when you hit a hound with a reaper and you can almost hear the pirates go like "Hawt dayum").
Your character without story points can already do great deeds and achieve feats unheard of throughout the sector, WITHOUT any SP usage, so how does disengaging when you have a pure frigate fleet require great divine intervention, as opposed to starting a successful colony in a sector ravaged by infighting and stagnation like its doing groceries? No idea...

SP are just another resource, just another coin, just another thing distracting us from making ACTUAL money more worthwhile, making faction and personal relations worthwhile, making skills worthwhile and making colonies worthwhile.

Do I need to BE an expert on ships to get a better Onslaught that what the XIV could field? Nope
Do I need to HIRE an expert to get it? Nope
Do I need to FIND rare pre domain tech that justifies such a cool and powerful modification? Nope
Then do I need a strong colony with considerable resources to make a powerful special fleet? Nope

Did I need to find or hang around luddies to convince this one? Nope
Did I need to achieve a trusting relationship and friends in high places to tell the AI bois to leg it? Nope.
Did I need to sha...ehm forge a trusting relationship with Ms Sun so that her blue fellows don't attack me for my 3% market share in adult diapers? Nope
Did I need to learn a skill or prepare my fleet specially to make sure even Space Davy Jones 'imself can't catch me?. LOL Nope.
Green boi go Kaplink! HAHAHA

So green point make do where nothing else make do. This isn't good, not good at all, you already HAVE the resources which could do everything you do with story points, and actually feel you made them yourself, feel you prepared for them yourself, feel like you planned after certain benefit and worked towards it, not just went around salvaging and "What do you know? I can now make the best Tempest that ever graced the sector". Again, this just isn't a good way to go about it, after all, the grind is still there, just make the grind worth it through the mechanics you already play with, instead of adding "Will Smith" as this genie obsessed fellow so eloquently put it.

I ALREADY HAVE TO GRIND! I ALREADY HAVE ALL THOSE COLOURED BARS ALL THE WAY PAST 75! ALREADY COLONIES! (caps for comedic effect, I am in fact very relaxed and totally not shouting)

I'm a strong independent spacer who don't need no green point!

Have the rep grind do what SP do, have skill points do what SP do, have player choices WHITHIN the game world do what SP do, what feels better, clicking on a green thingy to get a better ship or having to build your OWN docks so you can do it? Your own heavy industry? Your own research lab? (Industry idea). This is not having a pawn promotion in chess, this is being able to hit the table every 5th move, a pawn promotion would be to become more suave and seductive the more you spend your time doing jobs for who knows who in a shady bar in who knows were, you shouldn't be able to do that as an antisocial Apogee captain who communicates with grunts and body language Ludd dangit!

The game already has what it needs, just tie those systems together, with a world as rich as what we see here, as exciting and enthralling as what the devs have put together, we have little need for magic, for where we are going we don't need magic, we only need a loaded anti matter rifle, a spacesuit, and a heart lusting for adventure! Disclaimer: Spaceship, crew, supplies and fuel sold separately.
Logged
You can park your spaceship anywhere you want if you get along with pirates

Histidine

  • Admiral
  • *****
  • Posts: 3441
    • View Profile
    • Bitbucket profile
    • Email
Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #43 on: May 04, 2021, 11:00:12 PM »

Don't have a clear opinion on the overall topic, this is a bunch of disjointed thoughts:


Unsure whether I actually endorse this position yet, but I have a feeling: SP being decoupled conceptually/lore-wise from any of the game features it touches is actually good. It keeps things simple: one common resource pool instead of a dozen different elements spread across the game, and having to introduce a new one for each feature we want to implement/change. The actual relationship of the story point to whatever we're doing with it at that moment can be written on the spot.
i.e. the very arbitrariness of SP I consider in some ways a benefit, not a drawback.


Related to the above, I'm going to point out regarding the ideas to replace SP use with specific gameplay elements: a bunch of them are good and desirable, but would also require 10 times the work to cover the same bases as the SP use they replace. Consider for instance all the different options to get out of a fight you'd need to create for every possible combination of the specific enemy faction (Hegemony, Tri-Tachyon, pathers and pirates are each going to react to things differently), whether the fleet type in question would be responsive to this particular offer (random patrol, a prowling privateer, or a vengeance fleet specifically sent to kill you?), whether the player is even presently capable of doing the thing ("cool, I can get out of this crack if only I had this item I had no way of getting at this stage"), etc.

Some also have effects I consider actively bad, e.g. requiring player-owned heavy industry to enhance ships means the feature is locked out to me for multiple cycles into the game. (Fix for this: Let player have direct, reliable access to faction heavy industry. But see above.)


It's been stated a few times already in this thread, but needing SP to take a halfway diplomatic approach to things is indeed ridiculous.

For SP-using diplomacy options in general, the standard RPG alternative would be having points in a diplomacy skill, which can also have issues but at least maps to 'this is a thing the character was already known to be or not to be good at'.


I completely reject any claim that S-mods have "dumbed down" ship refitting relative to 0.9.1. My decision-making process is exactly the same as it was before, except with more leeway in the amount of OP I have and the added consideration of whether and where I want to spend my new fleetwide resource. It might be better if the resource had a specific conceptual and mechanical tie-in to ship stuff in general (random concept I just thought of: S-modding requires installation of more compact and effective "Domain-era ship components"), but see points 1-2.

Calling it "cheating" is just, like, words (I'd say it only makes sense if one already holds the pre-existing view that story points are cheating); you may as well apply the label to any other ostensibly overpowered thing the player can do.

(There was a knock on using Starship Legends as an example of an alternative here, but I deleted it because it wasn't really beneficial to the discussion)


Have your cake and eat it too (this sounded nicer than "compromise"): What if SP uses were unlocked by skills and/or possession of existing assets in the game? As in: no amount of heroics will let you restore a wrecked Onslaught you found in the boonies, or dodge a fleet twice your size, unless you already demonstrated a baseline capability in those areas. This also has the benefit of making skills (another area of, well, controversy) more interesting.
Logged

BTracer

  • Ensign
  • *
  • Posts: 32
    • View Profile
Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #44 on: May 05, 2021, 08:24:32 AM »

A lot has been discussed about the use of SP's, I'd like to talk about their acquisition. I think one of the bigger issues is that acquiring SP has no direct connections to the player - more or less earned passively while you play. This makes using them feel more akin to buying a used car after winning the lottery, then it does working hard and saving every dime, then finally the day comes you can afford it.

Another issue, almost as important, is the use of SP to prevent/minimize save scumming. In one instance, unavoidable fights to the death, SP can indeed help prevent a save scum, but it introduces what I think is an even greater reason to save scum - losing a ship with SP's invested in it. Ofc this will vary by user, but I imagine a majority of players spend SP on their ships, from early in the game, well into late game - making a loss any time during the game a likely save scum point.
As an aside, I think save scumming is a personal issue with objectively no right answer. With that line of thought, I think developers should neither encourage nor discourage its use or lack of use. Some will SS no matter what, others will avoid doing it until absolutely necessary and still others will die an Ironman death. Just let it be.

Last issue before I talk about my solutionTM. Should SP be limited in amount or practically unlimited? Personally I think a limited supply is the better approach - the exact details... well another time.

Ok so my solution: Make getting story points part of actually doing something in game. The exact details are obviously up for discussion, but the broad strokes go something like:

  • Every solar system potentially has a Story Point. The exact percentage can and should vary between games. I think in the range of 50% would work
  • An action of some type must be performed to uncover the Story Point

Don't let #2 scare you, it's not what you think. The best way to explain is by example. In no way an exhaustive list, I'm betting the community can come up with many more.

  • Easy (Early Game Acquisition) 1SP
    • Leave the starter system
    • Transverse Jump for the first time
    • Win your first battle
    • Buy/Capture your first ship
    • Hunt down a specific fleet/bounty
    • Haul/Sell some amount of something
    • Attack/Win a fight against a faction other than pirates/pather
    • Explore your first non-core world
    • ... and many more
  • Average (Mid Game Acquisition) 1SP
    • Repair (???K Metal) instead of salvage that mining station
    • Find a derelict ship
    • Find a long lost ship and return it safely to a specific faction/planet
    • Rescue someone
    • Scan all the planets in a system
    • Build your first colony
    • Build a stable colony and give it to a faction
    • ... and many more
  • Hard (Late Game Acquisition) 2SP?
    • Defeat a specific end game fleet
    • Conquer a faction
    • Sell a faction x Amount of AI Cores
    • Sell the pirates 'good' technology
    • Clear a system of REDACTED
    • ...lots more

It's important to understand that these are not missions - it's not known if a Story Point is involved until you actually do something - for example, repairing the mining station - you may have salvaged a dozen before, but when you go to salvage that specific one it offer you the chance to repair - only then do you know a story point can be earned. Or while your out exploring you find a ship and go to salvage/recover it - but instead a little story blurb about how this is the long lost ship of so and so legend and returning it safely to what's his name would be 'worth' it. That sort of thing. I know it doesn't work for the 'do X first' type ones, but I think a few easy point up front/early is ok.

Even though some of those ideas don't sound like they can be connected to a specific system, I think most can be made to work.
Take the 'build a stable colony and give it to a faction' - it could be a specific system - the player doesn't know - but say it's a system close to the core worlds. It's not that the player is expected to build a colony in every system - but if they happen to get lucky - great. The idea being there are several hundred systems, you should be able to 'accidently' stumble across enough Story Points to make them and your choices interesting - but finding them all should take some serious dedication.

There must be hundreds of different (maybe not drastically different, but still) possibilities, enough to make finding SP each play through a different experience. And it's not even necessary for a player to find ALL the SP in a play through - there should/could be enough variety that even if you stuck to a specific play 'style' (bounty/trader/explorer) you'd naturally find the story points.

I know I haven't explained nearly as well as it sounded in my mind - oh well, I hope it was enough.
Logged
Pages: 1 2 [3] 4 5 6